Arts & Culture

Thompson mural artists hope to bring people together

By Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Published 2:30 PST, Thu February 6, 2020

Last Updated: 10:31 PDT, Tue March 17, 2020

Have you ever walked past a public art project—a mural, a sculpture, or even a wrapped utility box—and wondered about the story behind it?

Community art projects help to bring people together. Now, the team behind an upcoming project is explaining their story.

Recently, the city approved three locations for the 2020 Engaging Artists in Community program. West Richmond Community Centre and Terra Nova Rural Park will host Artist-In-Residence projects and Thompson Community Centre will receive a new community mural. 

The Public Art Program Reserve has allotted $10,000 to each of these projects. The Thompson Community Association has contributed an additional $10,000 to their planned mural.

Artists April dela Noche Milne and Dawn Lo have been selected for the Thompson mural. Their project focuses on the past, present, and future of the Thompson neighbourhood and Richmond as a whole.

Both dela Noche Milne and Lo are longtime artists and 2014 graduates of Emily Carr University. They are excited to work together on this meaningful community project.

Lo’s favourite medium is gouache, a type of watercolour paint. “Though I have slowly started working digitally, I still enjoy the tangible elements of traditional medium,” says Lo.

dela Noche Milne also works digitally most of the time, using an iPad app called Procreate. “But I also work traditionally, and really love using just graphite and ink,” she adds.

The community artist program was an exciting challenge for these artists. “I’ve done some public art work before, but never to this scale,” explains dela Noche Milne. “I’m really looking forward to the challenge of the process itself.”

Lo has just finished working on Vancouver’s Chinatown Mural Project, and says she enjoyed every bit of the process. “The most precious moments were the conversations and exchanges I had with the locals who lived around there or people who passed through while commuting to work.”

What do the artists hope their new mural will add to the Richmond community? Lo looks forward to the community engagement sessions, aiming to build a sense of community pride. 

dela Noche Milne echoes Lo’s sentiment about pride. “I hope that it will add both joy and colour to the neighbourhood,” she adds.

“Soon we will be hosting engagement workshops that are open to the public in hopes to gather feedback and opinions,” say the artists.

Art is a big part of Lo and dela Noche Milne’s lives. “It is a form of communication that I find more fun and engaging, to simply connect with others,” says Lo.

“I think it was encouraged in me from a young age to use art to express myself, and I still use it that way. As an outlet, but also to tell stories that hopefully inspire meaningful change,” says dela Noche Milne.

dela Noche Milne and Lo will update their shared instagram, @porporandlola, starting in February. Look for updates on their community engagement workshops there.

Photo by April dela Noche Milne

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